Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Books vs. Movies: Hugo Cabret

Orphan Hugo Cabret lives in a wall. His secret home is etched out in the crevices of a busy Paris train station. Part-time clock keeper, part-time thief, he leads a life of quiet routine until he gets involved with an eccentric, bookish young girl and an angry old man who runs a toy booth in the station. The Invention of Hugo Cabret unfolds its cryptic, magical story in a format that blends elements of picture book, novel, graphic novel, and film. Caldecott Honor-winning author-illustrator Brian Selznick has fashioned an intricate puzzle story that binds the reader like a mesmerist's spell.

I have seen The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick on the shelves of book stores for a while now. But I must admit that I had never really paid attention to it until I realized a movie based on the novel would soon be hitting theaters. When I checked it out on Goodreads I found a review by one of my favorite authors, Maggie Stiefvater, who said she loved the book. So I checked it out from my library. I read it in only a few hours. Despite its length, it's a quick, easy read. And I would say probably close to 3/4 of the book is pictures.

The story of Hugo Cabret is beautiful and sad and marvelously entertaining. He lives with his drunk of an uncle in the walls of the train station after his father dies. He has no other family, and then his uncle disappears, but Hugo continues to keep the clocks at the train station running. He becomes a thief to keep himself as fed as he can and to fix his automaton. Before his father died, they began work on a small mechanical man who ran with clockworks. And Hugo continues on their work.

There are some interesting twists and turns, and many of the characters were much more than they initially showed up. As lovely as the story was, the images made it that much more charming. While this book is not written in comic form, it is definitely a graphic novel of sorts. The images are just as important to the story as the words.


Since I enjoyed the book so much, I had to see the movie in theaters. The movie has a shortened title. Just "Hugo". The actors were great, especially Asa Butterfield who starred as Hugo Cabret. In addition to the acting, the effects were great. They weren't over the top, as I've heard many say. I think they were perfect.

According to IMDb, author/illustrator Brian Selznick makes an appearance. I'll have to look for him next time.


As far as movie adaptations of a book go, this one was really close. The order of events weren't changed much. They added and subtracted little. They did, however, cut one of the major supporting characters from the movie. But they did well explaining things, small but important details that are often left out were well done here. My understanding of why so many stories are changed when turned into movies is because pacing in a book is different than pacing in a movie. While I found the book exciting, the movie was somewhat less so. It dragged in a few places.

So... read the book, and then see the movie. Don't miss out! Both were enjoyable.

2 comments:

Sandy said...

I might read the book but I'll see the movie first hehe, if I love it enough then I will read the book :) I did that with Harry and Percy.

Jessi E. (The Elliott Review) said...

I loved this book, and I love it even more now because my brother-in-law has been reading it to my cutie-smootie niece and nephew, and they were soooo excited about this movie. My sister called me one day because my four-year-old nephew demanded that I watch the trailer... :)

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